If you follow me on Instagram you've already endured the invasion of #dellsGTG pictures from the weekend on your feed. But you know there's more where that came from;)
The backstory: A long time ago, Andrea had mentioned that our Milwaukee group of friends should do a big Dells trip sometime this winter. I had been emailing with Erin, too, discussing the fact that we needed to finally meet in person. And then someone came up with the brilliant idea of EVERYONE going to the Dells together---husbands, two kids a piece, and six families total. We weren't sure if someone would back out at the last minute, if kids would be too sick, or if the idea of spending two nights with 'internet friends' would be too scary for the husbands. Oh, and the drive itself---it was less than 2 hours for the Milwaukee girls but almost 4 for those coming from Minnesota. That could be a horrible factor in the trip. We were especially nervous about the sleep situation with 12 kids, worried that the children might not share well or would hate each other, or that they could be in their tantrum prime with such over-stimulation. We knew it would be chaos and with all of the planning and over 100 emails shared between us, we were getting pretty freaking excited. I almost forgot about the whole indoor water park aspect in the midst of all the other variables. But the prospect of wearing a swimming suit in the dead of winter, right after the holidays? Another reason to be a bit apprehensive.
Andrea had already met Leah once, and obviously the Milwaukee girls are close friends in real life already (Erin, Andrea, Dizzy, and myself). Leah and Erin knew each other already, too. But otherwise it was one giant blind date---that involved spending multiple nights together in close quarters with rowdy toddlers and babies! It certainly could have been a disaster. And yet? It.Was.Amazing. We are all sort of shocked at how smooth the weekend went for us. Sure, we didn't sleep that great and it was total chaos a lot of the time. But a good chaos. One that I know we all enjoyed. One that was obviously well documented and photographed with a bunch of nutso bloggers. Duh.
Do we need to do a legend/key for this trip, to explain who belongs to who?
WI: Julia + Nate with Truman and Cecelia
WI: Erin + Dave with Henry and Ben
WI: Andrea + Jim with Eli and Gabby
WI: Dizzy + Andy with Charlotte and Eddie (not a true blogger but she was a great sport and it right in, as expected)
MN: Erin + Ben with Annie and Luke
MN: Leah + Tony with Isaac and Ezra (and baby #3 coming in April!)
The oldest kid will be 4 in April (Isaac) and the youngest was my 7 monther, Cecelia. Kind of crazy how we all have two kids that are basically the same ages, right? Also kind of crazy that the Packers played the Vikings on Saturday night for the playoffs. Nobody got nasty with each other during the game, in case you were wondering. Definitely too tired to care who won.
We stayed at The Wilderness and had two condos, side-by-side, with full kitchens with 3 bedrooms and a den in each condo. There are 3 indoor water parks there, including one that was perfect for our '4 and under' babes. We coordinated which families would bring what food (Google Docs, what?!) so we could all eat together for meals. Again, lots of planning but oh, so worth it.
I had a few moments during the trip when I was watching Truman play with his daddy in the water, grinning ear to ear, loving the entire experience when I thought, 'Being a parent is so freaking fun.' It makes me remember all of the fun water park experiences I had as a kid---the epitome of childhood summer fun, if you ask me. But this time, for my Wisconsin boy, his water park was indoors while snow was on the frigid January ground. He literally had the time of his life and although he was EXHAUSTED it was clearly one of the most fun weekends he's had. Watching Truman interact with the 'online celebrity/stranger' friends that we sort of forced upon him was also entertaining. He and Annie warmed up to each other right away and he even watched her take a bath within hours of meeting her! So basically he thinks the Dells equals naked chicks and he will probably ask to go back every weekend;) I'm pretty sure that Truman and Isaac were holding hands and running up and down stairs together by the second night. I just couldn't get over seeing my kids play with children I've 'watched' grow up but haven't met in real life. It was just so surreal.
Not to mention that meeting Erin and Leah in real life was pretty surreal and awesome for me, too. They were both who I expected them to be and it was fun to sit down and chat with them face-to-face. Girl time rules. Although I'm not sure there was ever an hour with EVERY child peacefully sleeping we came close a few times and it was wonderful. I'm also thankful that my extremely social husband hit it off with the other dads there. Perhaps he thought he was back in college surrounded by his frat bros, because they really did seem to get along without much effort. All of the guys were such great sports to go along with this idea and I'm pretty sure they don't regret coming with us. I mean, water slides DO bring out the little boy in every dad, right? And Cecelia? She was the youngest baby there and did so great! She loved the water--it was her first time really getting wet in a pool and Nate even took her down her first water slide. She didn't cry and didn't smile, so I call that a success! Also? Little girl bathing suits = reason enough to plan a trip like this every winter. I die.
I think that is all of the rambling I want to do about this amazing trip. There is talk of making this an annual event and I'm all about recurring chaos. Even if it will be even wilder with more/growing children. I'm in for 2014 ;)
And now for the visual evidence, non-iPhone style.
Dinner on Friday night. Babies inspect each other.
Three little monkeys...
And two more families arrive!
And ready for the water park!
And after the park, we ate lunch. Then hung out. And eventually, a nap.
After napping it was time to round up the troops for another water park excursion
(Leah's image---note the HUGE sleep line on my face. Best family portrait ever!)
Group picture time! This was no small feat, obviously.
(Leah's images for all of these. I die laughing at this one)
Everybody show us your silly faces! Bwahahahaha. Dave and Andy and Dizzy are the winners here. For various reasons.
Handsome/Awesome daddys with their kids. Procreation!
Moms with kids---obviously the children were a little bit over it at this point. Annie and Charlotte are my faves ever.
And then one more time at the water parks right before we all left for home.
(this was when I lost my freaking earring somehow. Very devastating but I suppose if that is the worst thing to happen on the trip it was a pretty good time)
(Leah's images--would like to use this one for a profile pic on FB if it weren't for my semi-obnoxious boobs)
Sigh. Is it really over? So much fun. Where would I be without this blog? Would I have made any new friends since moving to Wisconsin? Probably none quite like this;)